Recently, while networking over a cup of coffee, I told an innocent story. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that innocent story would lead directly to a job interview.
As I sat across from a banker with many high-profile contacts in the baseball industry, we casually discussed the new MLB playoff structure. The fact that he’s a big baseball fan led us to exchange predictions of whom we ultimately thought was going to win the World Series. I stated my predictions using stats and stories about the players whom I ultimately thought were going to make a difference and lead their teams to the victory.
I quickly realized that all of the research I’d done leading up to fantasy drafts and all of the attention I’d focused toward my fantasy teams on a daily basis allowed me to develop detailed knowledge of past player performances, injuries, and trades. The more we spoke, the more I was able to impress my listener. When asked how I knew all of the statistics I fired his way, I explained that it was all information I’d learned in order to become a successful fantasy baseball GM.
How did my experience as a Fantasy Baseball GM get me an interview?
1. I Told an Industry-Specific Story About Being Successful
Telling a pertinent and intriguing story is one of the most powerful tools you can use to create a lasting impression. Whether you’re networking or being interviewed for your dream job, stories allow others to relate to you and retain the information you provide them with. This is extremely important when you’re trying to stand out in such a competitive industry – give your listener a reason to remember you!
Stories give you the opportunity to describe yourself and display your skills without coming off as pretentious or make you feel like you’re showing off. Most of us are uncomfortable talking about ourselves and our achievements so putting them in story-form allows the listener to draw conclusions on their own. Telling appropriate stories is a tactic you should use to display how passionate, hard-working and motivated you are – without directly saying it.
2. He Perceived Me to Have Job-Related Experience
Positioning yourself as an expert in a specific domain will give you the job-related experience many think they lack. Knowing the industry (or more specifically, the job requirements), will allow you to creatively think of ways to leverage your skill-set to gain an advantage over other candidates. During my conversation with the banker, I explained how I prepared for the fantasy drafts, scouted, made trades, and dealt with injuries. My listener heard about my daily responsibilities as a fantasy baseball GM, and accepted these experiences as job-related experience (value).
Although I’d never had a job in the sports industry, I positioned myself as a strong candidate thanks to the baseball-specific knowledge I had acquired. Not only had he perceived me as someone who would quickly adapt and learn in a professional role, but he perceived me as someone who could provide tangible value right away. Employers are looking for candidates who are able to provide value to their organizations. When you walk into a job interview, have a strong understanding of the challenges the employer is facing and use your skills to show how you can add value to their organization by emphasizing your job-related experiences. That is a sure-fire way to be considered as a stellar candidate!
3. I Allowed My Genuine Passion to Shine
The most important aspect of this article and the main reason why I received the high-profile referral for a job interview was my ability to show how genuinely passionate I am. Not only did my passion for baseball come across during our conversation, but I was able to communicate my knowledge directly to a decision maker and make a lasting impression.
Be yourself when you’re networking! Not every conversation needs to be formal and dry. You can be professional and still let your personality and passion shine through your words. Don’t be shy to take risks and think outside of the box – after all, not everything needs to be done by the book.
Comment below with cool ways you’ve landed an interview! Also, send us a tweet @sportsnetworker
Excellent post, Michael. Especially this: “…have a strong understanding of the challenges the employer is facing and use your skills to show how you can add value to their organization by emphasizing your job-related experiences.”
Avoid going too far over their budget or it may be taken as an insult – consider what will be a surprise but not a shock.